Attorney General refuses to say whether UK has ‘blanket’ drone policy

September 15, 2015

The British Attorney General has today refused to say whether the Government has a ‘blanket’ or ‘case-by-case’ policy on carrying out targeted killings in countries with whom the UK is not at war.

Jeremy Wright was answering questions from MPs on the Justice Select Committee, who questioned him over the UK’s adoption of a US-style drone programme, as recently announced by the Prime Minister.

However, Mr Wright refused to give further details on the nature of the legal advice he had provided to his Government.  Asked by Richard Arkless MP, “is the advice that you’ve delivered to the Government in relation to these drone strikes, will that be conducted on a case by case basis or are you giving them blanket authority to do this again if the circumstances arise?”  he responded, “that’s another nice try…but I’m afraid I can’t go into the detail of the advice that I gave.”

The Attorney General also said there was a need to rethink what “imminence” means in relation to self-defence.

Commenting, Kat Craig, legal director at human rights charity Reprieve said: “It is alarming that the Attorney General does not feel the need to tell MPs or the public even the most broad details about the UK’s kill policy. All we currently know, is that the Prime Minister thinks he can authorise the killing of anyone, anywhere, without any parliamentary or judicial oversight. The UK appears to be going down the US route of a counter-productive, secret drone war which does more harm than good.  When even US generals are warning that the drone programme causes more problems than it solves, it beggars belief that the British Government is adopting the model in full.  We need a real debate, and for that we need the Government to come clean about this policy.”